Israeli FA hand Fernandez deadline

JERUSALEM, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The Israel Football Association on Sunday gave national team coach Luis Fernandez until March 4 to resolve a financial dispute that would allow FIFA to lift his ban from all football activity.

Last week world football's governing body told the Israeli FA to immediately suspend Fernandez because of an outstanding debt to Qatari club Al Rayyan whom he left in the middle of his coaching contract in 2005 to join Israel's Beitar Jerusalem.

Former France international Fernandez said after meeting Israel FA chairman Avi Luzon on Sunday he was confident the dispute could be resolved.

"The matter is now subject to litigation and I respect FIFA's decision... it is my right to find a solution to this problem in which my lawyers say I was made a victim," he said.

Luzon said he expected Fernandez would resolve his dispute and would be back at work in time to prepare Israel for two home Euro 2012 qualifiers next month against Latvia and Georgia.

"I am certain Luis will solve his problems in the coming days and will be able to devote himself fully to preparing the national team for the important fixtures in March," a statement issued by Luzon said.

He did not hint at what might happen or who might replace Fernandez in the event it is not resolved within the deadline.